Joel Kruger remembers working on his uncle's ranch in Montana as a child. Kruger moved to Carson Valley with his parents in 1989 and took up baseball and football, slowly allowing his interest in ranch work to dwindle.
After returning from college, though, Kruger caught on helping out friends at a number of local ranches. It wasn't long before he began competing in the annual Minden Ranch Rodeo.
In a poetic twist, Kruger is now serving as president of the event which was originally intended to tie the Valley's heritage to the future of agriculture in the area.
The Minden Ranch Rodeo XIII is scheduled for Saturday and Sunday at the Douglas County Fairgrounds. Performances are at 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. Sunday, although activities are scheduled throughout both days.
"What's unique about the ranch rodeo is that it's things you see on an every day working ranch," Kruger said. "You start to get an idea of how much work goes into doctoring the calves and sort individuals away from the herd, things like that. We get to mix in some fun and competition with it, and it's pretty fun to watch."
Events are tailored around everyday jobs on a working ranch, and include ranch doctoring, big loop roping, team branding, dally calf roping, wild cow milking, ranch bronc riding and ranch team roping.
New this year will be trailer loading, where a truck and stock trailer are rolled out into the arena with a group of cattle. Four-man teams will compete to see who can get the cattle loaded in the trailer in the least amount of time.
Fourteen teams from Oregon, Central California and Northern Nevada are expected to compete. Admission into the performances is $5 per person. All proceeds from the weekend will go toward supporting a scholarship fund benefitting seniors in the Douglas County High School Rodeo Club and the Northern Nevada Cancer Foundation.
"When Alton Anker got this going 12 or 13 years ago, he had a vision that ultimately it would help keep rodeo and agriculture as key parts of this Valley," Kruger said. "It's become just a good place for families to come, bring their kids. Not everyone gets to experience this kind of stuff. A lot of people move to this area that are interested in the cowboy and ranch lifestyle. This is a way for people to get a small taste of how things are done. It's a lot of fun."
The Kiwanis Club will be on hand to sell concessions throughout the weekend.
"It's for a good cause and we just encourage people to come out and get involved," Kruger said.
Joey Crandall can be reached at (775) 782-5121, ext. 212.